Yesterday we looked at Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, the key players I focused on during my trip to Burlington this past weekend. Today we'll finish up with a look at other notable players on the Quad Cities River Bandits roster. A seperate report on the Burlington Bees will follow later today.
GENERAL TEAM IMPRESSION: The River Bandits are currently 75-56, well over .500 but eight games behind the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League Western Division. Despite uncomfortably hot and muggy weather conditions over the weekend, the River Bandits played in a sharp and focused manner and appear well-coached and managed. This was in contrast to the lifeless Burlington team which made a lot of mental mistakes and looked like they were just playing out the string. The Bandits won both games I saw, winning Saturday 4-1 and Sunday 5-1.
Here are some brief nuggets on players who stood out to me.
Bobby Borchering, 1B: It was rather strange to see Borchering in Low-A; he was in Double-A a year ago and was a top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system until being traded to the Houston Astros last summer. Borchering has apparently been dealing with some personal issues and the trip back to Low-A is an attempt to reset his career. He went 3-for-8 in the two games but also fanned three times, and I felt his swing looked longer and slower than when I last saw him. He's hitting just .219/.314/.364 in 42 games for Quad Cities, with 54 strikeouts in 151 at-bats. The thing that stood out most was that his teammates seemed to be working very hard at encouraging him.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF: 20 year old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, hitting .270/.328/.430 with 12 homers, 24 steals, 40 walks, 129 strikeouts in 474 at-bats I saw him play back in May and wrote the following:
Aggressive hitter, seems to have trouble with pitches low in the strike zone and breaking pitches give him problems. On the other hand, he mashed a hittable fastball for a long home run to left field. Best tool is speed; he's not as fast as Byron Buxton but he runs well above average.
That's all still true. He's fast and has wiry strength. He went 2-for-9 with five strikeouts on Saturday and Sunday; however his swing looked like a real mess during the whiffs and he still has problems with low pitches and breaking balls. Pretty much the same guy he was back in May.
Brian Holmes, LHP: Another guy I saw back in May and he hasn't changed much either, still throwing 87-89 with some tailing action on the fastball, mixing in a slider, curve, and changeup. He kept the Burlington hitters off stride without much trouble, allowing one run in six innings with five strikeouts. He's had a fine season (2.49 ERA, 62/19 K/BB in 61 innings) but we need to see how he holds up at higher levels. Classic finesse lefty.
Tony Kemp, 2B: Fifth round pick in 2013 out of Vanderbilt, currently hitting .266/.376/.341 through 21 games. Undersized sparkplug type at 5-6, 165. Runs well and will be a stolen base threat if he hits enough at higher levels. He is very patient and works the count without fear. As you'd expect with a player his size, he lacks power and it remains to be seen if his bat will hold up, but his eye gives him a chance and he is very fundamentally sound. He also showed good range and actions around the bag at second base, and like most of the Quad Cities players he hustles and played alertly.
Mitch Lambson, LHP: Another repeater from the May trip, no real change in profile, although he was throwing just a hair harder this time, 87-90 instead of 86-88. Good changeup and has some funk in his delivery which throws hitters off. Like Holmes, he's had a good year (3.21 ERA, 76/24 K/BB in 67 innings) but will need to show he can repeat this at higher levels given his lack of plus velocity.
Rio Ruiz, 3B: Ruiz was a fourth round pick last June but with an overslot bonus at $1.85 million. He was on the disabled list in May so I didn't get to see him then. He went 3-for-8 with a home run and a double in these two games, but he actually puzzled me to some extent. He is obviously quite strong, but he looked less athletic than I expected.
His swing. . .well, he had some swings (including the home run) which looked terrific, with plus bat speed, clean and sweet. But he also had some swings that looked pretty bad, getting long and slow. He has a good throwing arm but his range wasn't challenged in these two games. Overall he's hitting .251/.328/.415, but with a sharp split between the first half of the season (.211/.313/.311) and the second half (.286/.342/.505). I had Ruiz as a Grade B- prospect pre-season based on what he did in high school. I think I'd go with a B now.
Danry Vasquez, OF: Acquired from the Tigers for Jose Veras this summer, Vasquez had a good series and went 4-for-8. He is listed at 6-3, 177, but he looks bigger than that. He doesn't have much power yet, but that may come in time; he's just 19 and the size and strength look like they will be there as he matures. His swing is quick and while aggressive at jumping on hittable pitches, he didn't lunge at anything outside the strike zone. I don't think he will be a big player for walks, but he makes contact. I think he'll continue to hit for average with gradually increasing power production.